SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Thursday marked the day 55 years ago when history was made in the Civil Rights movement. The Voting Rights Act was signed. The landmark legislation ensured the right to vote for all those of color and outlawed states from taking onerous actions to prevent voting or prevent voter registration.
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a part of the bill known as preclearance which required certain states to get permission from the federal government before they enacted new local elections laws like Voter ID. The preclearance measure was deemed necessary in the original legislation because of longstanding actions by states that the federal government deemed prejudicial toward people of color.
Advocates, including the late Civil Rights icon Congressman John Lewis, pushed for re-authorization of the entire Voting Rights Act. With the recent death of Lewis, many said the way to honor him is for legislation passed by the House in 2019 to finally be debated and passed by the U.S. Senate.
“So for the love of God, for the respect of John Lewis who was a patriot, this should be done,” said Reverend Raphael Warnock who is a democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Georgia. Warnock was also a friend of Lewis and officiated at Lewis’s funeral last week in Atlanta.
Warnock says Lewis would want action on the legislation. “Everybody stood up last week saying what a great man John Lewis was. We saw (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell speak very eloquently about how Lewis was a man of integrity and while he’s saying that, Mitch McConnel he knows he has been sitting on the re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act. The bill’s been on his desk for a year,” said Warnock.
Warnock is running for the Senate seat currently held by Kelly Loeffler and says both Loeffler and Georgia Senator David Perdue should go on the record in terms of whether or not they would support the bill now named for Lewi
“If Kelly Loeffler and Senator Perdue believe in voting rights they ought to stand up for it, they ought to ask Mitch McConnell to at least put it up for a vote,” said Warnock.
We reached out to the offices of Senator Perdue and Loeffler. We asked if the senators would favor having the bill come to the Senate floor for debate and if so, how they might vote on it .
Senator Perdue’s office did not answer those questions directly but Perdue did say “the right to vote is fundamental, and every legally eligible voter should have the opportunity to freely cast their ballot.”
We did not receive a response from Loeffler’s office at the time this story was posted.